Patel seeks to make Hamas an illegal terrorist organisation

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Home Secretary Priti Patel is seeking to proscribe Hamas as a terrorist organisation in a move to crack down on hatred against Jewish people.

The Cabinet minister said the ban would cover the Palestinian Islamist group’s political wing, as she described the organisation as a “fundamentally and rabidly antisemitic” when announcing the move in Washington DC on Friday.

If the change is approved by Parliament, anyone who expresses support for the organisation, which controls the Gaza Strip, will be in breach of the Terrorism Act 2000 – and could face up to 14 years in prison.

Actions expected to be outlawed from November 26 would include arranging meetings for the group, flying their flag or wearing clothing that it is seen to support them.

In a speech at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank, Ms Patel said she would proscribe Hamas “in its entirety, including its political wing” as she warned of its “significant terrorist capability” and history of violence.

“Hamas is fundamentally and rabidly anti-Semitic. Antisemitism is an enduring evil which I will never tolerate. Jewish people routinely feel unsafe – at school, in the streets, when they worship, in their homes, and online,” she said.

“This step will strengthen the case against anyone who waves a Hamas flag in the United Kingdom, an act that is bound to make Jewish people feel unsafe.

“Anyone who supports or invites support for a proscribed organisation is breaking the law. That now includes Hamas in whatever form it takes.”

Until this point, only Hamas’ military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has been banned in the UK. It was proscribed as a terrorist group in March 2001.

The Home Office said that Ms Patel’s decision to proscribe Hamas followed advice from the cross-government Proscription Review Group.

It added that the proscription order, which has been laid before Parliament on Friday, will now be debated and, subject to approval, will come into force on November 26.

Labour shadow home secretary Nick Thomas Symonds said: “Labour’s first priority will always be defending our national security and upholding our democratic values.

“We support this step, which brings the UK in line with the US, Canada, the European Union and other international partners.”

Hamas responded to “express our shock and dismay” at the move.

“Unfortunately, the UK continues with its aggression against the Palestinian people,” the group said in a statement.

“The UK Government should have apologised for its historic sin against the Palestinian people in the shameless Balfour Declaration and the British mandate that handed Palestine to the Israeli occupation. Now, the UK Government sides with the aggressor against the victim.”

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